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The gospel’s powerful implications

November 15, 2023

Daily Scripture

Galatians 3:26-29, 5:1-6

Galatians 3
26 You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 5
1 Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again.
2 Look, I, Paul, am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, having Christ won’t help you. 3 Again I swear to every man who has himself circumcised that he is required to do the whole Law. 4 You people who are trying to be made righteous by the Law have been estranged from Christ. You have fallen away from grace! 5 We eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness through the Spirit by faith. 6 Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t matter in Christ Jesus, but faith working through love does matter.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The Jewish Christians who followed Paul to Galatia claimed the Bible required men to be circumcised to join God’s family (cf. Genesis 17:10-14). No doubt some Galatians thought, “Why not hedge our bets? We’ll trust in Jesus AND follow the rituals these other teachers tell us to carry out.” But Paul was emphatic: there was no splitting the difference. “Faith working through love,” not ritual purity, was what mattered. It was impossible to trust in them both for salvation.

  • Scholar William Barclay summed up Paul’s words this way: “To Paul all that mattered was faith which works through love. That is another way of saying that the essence of Christianity is not law but a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. The Christian’s faith is founded not on a book but on a person; its dynamic is not obedience to any law but love to Jesus Christ.” * What attitudes, choices and actions help you build and maintain your love relationship with Jesus?
  • The kind of faith the “Judaizers” wanted had strong cultural and ethnic effects that divided people. Paul, himself born in that ethnic group and culture, said, “Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.” He rejected gender, economic or ethnic divisions. Do you ever struggle to accept believers in Jesus from a different ethnic or denominational background? Can we all find unity as “Abraham’s descendants” in Christ?

Lord Jesus, thank you that I get to belong to you, to be an heir according to your great promises. Thank you for the widely varied family of which that makes me a part. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar is the Community Assistance Coordination Director in Resurrection's Congregational Care Ministry. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.

I’ve come to that point in life when a lot of my time and focus is spent on “downsizing” and “simplifying.” At this time, I want everything to be simple. No frills. Get rid of the clutter. For the past few months we’ve been hauling away boxes and bags full of “stuff” accumulated as we lived in the same house for over 35 years. We’ve found ourselves asking questions like, “What the heck IS this? Why do we own this? Have we ever used it? Will this fit in our new, smaller (and hopefully less cluttered) place? This clean-up and clean-out mindset seems to have spread into other parts of my life. What really matters? How does God want me to spend my time, my energy, my gifts and my money? 

There are a lot of people out there waiting to answer the question for me. Many of the “answers” that pop up in my email or my phone seem to involve a new system for everything from improving my health to paying my bills to advising me as to how to spend my time. Complicated systems. Improvements that come with more stuff. Busy-ness for the sake of being busy. More worrisome to me is that many of them seem to be asking me to “choose sides,” or think a certain way and reject others who may think or live differently. They all promise happiness, safety, comfort, and a better life. But they really just deliver more clutter.    

Happily, I have some simpler, straightforward guidance in my life, and today’s words from Paul are a great example. “We eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness through the Spirit by faith….faith, working through love does matter.” 

That’s a decluttering plan I can get my mind, and my heart, around! Paul knew from long and not-always-great experience that all the rules and “stuff” did not bring us any closer to the life that God wanted for us. We could follow all of the “plans” in the world for self and even spiritual improvement, but if they weren’t based on faith working through love, they don’t matter. They don’t bring us into living the life Jesus taught us. No rule, no plan, no teaching that doesn’t begin with faith and love will ever connect us with the God who loves us, and the simplicity of following Jesus path. Simple. True.  

Lord, I want to simplify by looking at you. I want to live without the clutter of plans and pursuits that don’t begin with faith and love. Let my life and my focus be on you and your love. Bless me with the simple tools I need to move forward sharing your love. Amen .

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 43.